Category Archives: Holiday Planning

Boo-llions for the 31st


Would your father approve of your Halloween spending habits?

I’m a bit nervous to broadcast what I’m about to say in fear that I will get endless amounts of hate mail, but it looks like I’ve already started down the path, so here I go: Halloween is my least favorite holiday. Yup, I said it. And it’s true. I’m not sure if it’s because my mom dressed me up as a picnic table in 4th grade (ants, empty chip bags and all) or that my stomach turns upside down with the smallest splatter of fake blood, but my excitement for October 31st has definitely dwindled exponentially as each year passes.

But adding to my true apathy was the statistics of how much Americans spend on Halloween. Are you ready to be totally spooked?

Adults spend $1.2 billion dollars annually on their costumes. WHAT?! Now, I’m usually the first one to comment on a super creative costume or one that’s just totally off the wall, but let’s visit the Dollar Tree, a discount craft store, or better yet, our basements to create a masterpiece that’s sure to get heads turning at any party.

As far as the kiddies, of course their parents are shelling out the dough for their “dream” costumes. Whether your little girl wants to be Sofia the First or your son wants to be a Mutant Ninja Turtle (Donatello to be exact since he was my favorite,) it’s going to cost you. 

Now, let’s get ready for this stat: $1 billion is spent each year on… PETS’ costumes! That is so crazy to me. Sure, I’ve seen some great pet costumes, like my friend’s chihuahua turned shark. But this is just insanity.

It’s frustrating to know there are so many people hurting out there financially, yet this frivolous spending is happening on every leaf-covered, jack-o-lantern lit street in the nation. It’s most likely too late for you to curtail your purchase of those $50 glittery heels you HAD to have for this Halloween. But maybe next year, we can work on it. Here are some tips:

1) Before you decide what you want to be, come up with a budget. This will help you narrow down your costume choice. How much can you REALLY afford to spend? How much SHOULD you spend?

2) Once you have the dollar amount set in stone, start thinking about your options. Could you rent your costume? Make it? Buy all the elements at the local thrift store? Be sure to investigate all your options—and buying your costume at the closest party supply store probably isn’t your best option.

3) If you’re purchasing your costume, make a list of all the things you’ll need. Be sure to take inventory of what may be collecting dust in your closet or basement, and prepare that pair of shoes or crazy hat for its revival!

I know people LOVE Halloween. I mean, let’s face it, the numbers don’t lie. 

But being in debt and spending money you don’t have is a lot scarier than the creepiest costume you can find!

– Ambitioussoul


The 10-Day Hustle

That’s right, everyone. Christmas is 10 days away. 10 days. That means tomorrow it will only be single-digits away. Are you ready? (And yes, I can hear your echoing, angry “nos” all the way in Upstate New York.) So if your shopping still isn’t done, you’re still trying to decide between ham and turkey on Christmas Eve and you haven’t even decided on the holiday schedule (because we ALL need one,) this post may overwhelm you at first. But just know I want to help you compartmentalize, so you can focus on one thing at a time and enjoy doing it!

As for me, when I tell people my tree is up and decorated, my home is peppered with homemade crafts and DIY Christmas apparel to make it feel more warm, cozy and well “Christmasy,” my dining room table is set and my gifts are wrapped, I get the total evil eye, coupled with a chastising tone. And I totally get why, because that was me in 2011. But this year, I decided things were going to be different. This year, I was going to be proactive.

I know it’s a bit late to talk about the ins and outs of being “proactive” with Christmas and all its glory right around the corner, but hopefully these tips will allow you to use the next 10 months or so to mentally prepare yourself to start strategizing for Christmas 2013. It may seem ridiculous that I even suggest such a thing, but we all know it’s true! I’m not going to over-stimulate everyone and talk about every facet of holiday planning, but I’ve picked a couple that I know can be daunting. Here we go…

Setting the table for your Christmas celebration
We all know PInterest can be both a blessing and a curse. Yes, there are a million and one cute ideas on how to set your table for the wonderful dinner you will serve, but how do you choose which motif to go with? Centerpieces, tablecloths, napkins, runners…. ahhhh! But if you take this step-by-step approach, you can actually decide what you’d like your table to look like before you even get to the store. How do you ask?

1) Find old treasures. Dig through the bins of Christmas decorations you may not be using, and try to picture how they could be used in your centerpiece. Whether a wintry wreath or some pretty bulbs, you’re sure to come up with some ideas. Once you have a clear picture of what you already own and don’t need to buy, this will help you decide on a concrete and reasonable budget (both operative words here.)

2) Define a table setting budget. Yes, I said it, a budget. Now that you’ve taken an inventory of what you have and know what you’ll use, this will be easy. Speaking of budget, Dave Ramsey has an awesome Christmas budget sheet available on his website. Again, I know it’s only 10 days before Christmas, but this may help you stay financially organized. As we all know, when days start to get crazy, money just flies out of our bank accounts.

3) Choose a color scheme. This may be a little difficult to do without standing in Target’s Christmas aisle for 45 minutes, but at least limit yourself based on the materials you already have. For example, I knew I needed a silver, gold or green tablecloth and napkins to match the bulbs I was going to use. It was much easier to find those items in one of the three colors than heading to the store without a clue. When that happens, I always end up frustrated, overwhelmed and, well, sweaty.

Guide to Christmas planning

Ready, set, Christmas!

For my table setting that you see here, the only things I bought new were the tablecloth and the linen napkins. I had everything else (little did I know!) Total cost: $25. Budgeted: $30

The Perfect Gift… Wrapping!
This year I vowed to myself I would not buy one ounce of wrapping paper or any other packaging paraphernalia. I was going to use what I already had. <GASP> But once again, after taking an inventory of everything from bows and ribbons to bags and tags, I didn’t need to buy a thing!

Guide to Christmas planning

A flower topper

Not only did I not buy any wrapping paper, but I used scraps I never thought I would have a use for (unless I was giving someone a pet millipede,) to make my own homemade bows and gift toppers. And I must say, my gifts this year look soooo amazing!

So how do you make said bows? Well, since I’m trying to whole “less is more” thing, I’ll give you the steps to make the flower topper above, since that seems to be a favorite. You’ll need:

– Scrap wrapping paper (length and width will determine the circumference of the flower)
– Scissors
-Curling ribbon or twine

1) First, take your scrap paper and fold it accordion-style, first away from you, then towards you. It doesn’t matter if the printed side is face up or face down.

2) Once you have your makeshift fan, staple it in the middle.

3) Using your scissors, cut either a pointed or a curved design on each end.

4) Fan the paper out, connecting the two sides with either a piece of tape or another staple.

5) Complete with a bow or ribbon of your choice in the middle to give it some extra flair.

And ta-da! Happy bow making!

So, with all of this said, remember, baby steps. Take one thing at a time. And hopefully I’ve inspired you to get your table set and your gifts wrapped… today!


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